Jane and Brian Spencer are a married couple. They’re also wed to a career together as musicians in avant-garde singing and electronics project Finkel. They blend astral sound textures with down-to-Earth harmonized vocals.
Finkel will be headlining a show tonight at Resonator, 325 E. Main that includes performances by Dire Gnome and Tribesmen. Music is central to Finkel’s identity but not to the Spencers’ interpersonal dynamic.
“We always put our relationship first,” Jane said. “We have laid that out from the beginning. We are doing this together, an experience together, to expand together and if it doesn’t feel like that, we’ve got to make some changes.”
Changes are something Finkel doesn’t fear. They’ve recently left home-state Michigan to work and reside in Los Angeles. The couple began their careers as folk musicians and switched genres. They were in a locally successful outfit called Less is More and changed band names to Jane’s maiden name Finkel.
“Any good relationship’s foundation is as much communication as possible,” Brian said. “When you layer art that you’re trying to collaborate on, in tandem with a business you’re trying to run, the relationship and all the factors that go into, it needs even more communication. We’re not shy about talking everything through. We’re not masters at it but we’re excited about learning how to do it better.”
Jane pointed out that writing music together is a template for problem-solving generally. A decade-long learning curve while working together has allowed for them to manage egos effectively during the creative process. Their sound has a contemporary vibe that’s both listenable and danceable.
“We can finally dance to our music,” Jane said. “That was a realization that hit us over the head and one of the reasons we changed from the folk band is that we’re such dancers.”
Their new sound also reflects the kind of music they listen to daily for fun.
“We’re taking inspiration from artists, both alive and dead, we’ve admired,” Brian said. “This has allowed us the freedom to explore a lot of new sonic avenues. Any time you put yourself in a box in any category, inspiration can falter. It’s been a real release to create as freely as we have the last couple of years. And it feels even better to perform it out for the reasons Jane has touched on.”
Finkel’s newest single “Lexicon” is a commentary on today’s music industry.
“It’s about how we as people interact with one another and what agendas come out of conversations,” Brian said. “Whether they’re purposeful or not. The releases we have coming up in 2019 will go in and out of relational topics. We like to write about what we’re thinking and talking about at that specific moment. Like most art, we’re just a reflection of what we’re taking in ourselves.”
There’s an attractive nexus between Finkel’s music and visual art found in the music videos they’ve created. Several of them are cleverly animated with vivid colors and brilliant design. Jane does Finkel’s graphic design, tattoo art and also works with a couple of fashion labels in LA.
“When we started Finkel it was decided that we wanted it to be our super art project,” Jane said. “We’re both graphic designers and musicians. So we wanted Finkel to be the culmination of all our strengths and interests. When you couple visual art with music it helps to create an entire new world that is not of this world, if you so choose. That’s the direction we wanted to take, altering reality and allowing people to go out of their normal, everyday lives.”
The 20-something Spencer couple began their live performance careers playing three-hour bar gigs while people were eating pasta.
“You really learn a lot about grabbing people’s attention in that kind of environment,” Jane said. “That was instrumental to our growth, even though it wasn’t always the easiest. Right now we’ve met a performance coach who asked to work with us. We’re working on the effectiveness of our movements and how that changes the way our music is perceived. It’s learning to let the experience of the show take us over, as well as the audience.”